Most people I tell this story to think I'm crazy. Why would I ride 150 miles anywhere? And furthermore why ride all that way on a Brompton folding bike? Don't I have a regular bike??
First let me tell you a bit about my setup. My bike is a Brompton M6L. That means it is a 6 speed with standard M-type handlebars and fenders. I skipped the rack because I didn't want the extra weight. The rack is really practical if you will be pulling your Brompton folding bike in "cart mode" as it makes it more stable, but for my purposes I decided to go without it. I have a Brooks B17 Special leather saddle which, at 400 miles or so, has just turned to corner towards being the super comfort I dream about.
I chose 6 speeds because I wanted to be able to ride my Brompton folding bike for any occasion. I don't feel like having one bike for short distance and one for long, why not just have one bike that can do anything and fold up really small? I haven't ridden my road bike since I got my Brompton. I'm just too addicted.
This ride was really meant as a final test both for me and for my Brompton. Could I go this far in one day? Would I have the strength, physical and mental, to just go it alone? And for the Brompton: Would it hold up over the hours of constant riding and varied road conditions? Would it be comfortable enough for me to ride it so far in one sitting? Would I still be in love with it in the end?
I left at 11:30pm from my place up in West Harlem. Crossing the George Washington Bridge at night was amazing. The lights from the city made a patch work texture on the black sky. Whenever I leave New York I feel like I am crossing a threshold into the unknown. Especially on a folding bike alone at night with 150 miles of unknown roads ahead!
After getting lost in New Jersey for about an hour I got enroute to Newark, the first of 3 big city hubs I would pass through on my journey. My Brompton was great on the hills just off the GWB. I was surprised how easily it climbed, though it may have been my adrenaline, and how smoothly it tracked on descents despite going about 30 mph. It was probably a bad idea to go so fast on these down hills given I couldn't see the road very well but luckily New Jersey is pretty good about keeping up their main roads.
It was a long ride into Newark and going through such a large feeling city was cool. My Brompton folding bike was dwarfed by Broad Street, the massive through way of that city, and as I passed back into suburbia I noticed the time had been passing rather quickly. It had already been several hours in the saddle and I was still feeling fresh. Patience is a big part of a long ride like this and it helped that my Brompton wasn't having any problems along the way.
After Newark I cut south of Edison and made my way onto the Deleware and Raritan State Park Trail. This awesome bike trail follows an old canal for miles and miles straight through to Princeton so it was an route to take. I would be protected from cars and I would get a chance to try my Brompton folding bike out in the dirt and gravel of the path.
Riding my Brompton along the canal was fantastic, and what a beautiful setting for bike riding. You have the canal flowing by and the trees overhead and the fresh air and the sound of the gravel. Its perfect.
This is a good time to point out I was riding on Schwalbe Marathon tires. These are the most puncture resistant Brompton tires available and I must say they served me well over glass, gravel, thorns, potholes, nails, you name it. I wouldn't ride my Brompton without Schwalbe Marathons, I just hate flat tires that much.
Along the canal I met lots of nice people out for their Saturday rides. I'd already been on the road for almost 7 hours so it was sort of humorous to see these fresh faced riders out for what for them is an early morning ride. After a few hours down the path I came to Princeton, NJ. Princeton is a nice little town. I had some of the best coffee of my life just outside the city but I forgot to get a card, shoot! I met several people at the cafe who had about a million questions about my Brompton and couldn't stop admiring it. A folding bike is something of an oddity outside of major city centers I guess, though a lot of people seemed to think it would still make sense for them.
Skipping far ahead, because I can't possible tell the whole story, I made it to Philly at around 4:30 and decided that this would be the perfect time to visit Trophy bikes, a Brompton dealer in the city. The Brompton US Championship race winner works at their shop so I figured I'd drop in and pay a visit. Well, I made my way through North Philly and into Central city but it took me much longer than I expected. Philly is huge, I mean really big, or maybe just felt that way because I had no idea where I was. At any rate I made it to Trophy bikes at 5:23pm, just after they had closed for the day. Oh well. I'll just have to visit them on my Brompton again another time soon.
After riding all that way it was time to take a break. I got a coffee and some food and sat in one of Central City's nice parks. It felt almost like I hadn't left New York. I got questions about my Brompton and people laughed at how far I'd gone. I was pretty exhausted but I had made it. After 150 miles through the middle of the night I finally had accomplished what I'd wanted to for years: riding over 100 miles in one day. All that and on a Brompton folding bike no less!
Check out Brompton folding bikes. They are the worlds finest folding bike. Hand built in West London and made to last for miles and miles and miles. I can attest to that myself!